Full text of "Lenox"
Olive A. Col ton
Governor Bernard of Massachusetts, 1760-69, named the Berk-
shires for the hills of his native shire in England and the Indians
called their settlement Yokuntown, after a Stockbridge chief. Later,
however, when the white people came, it was renamed Lenox in
honor of Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond. A great-grandson of
King Charles II, he was Secretary of State and had carried the great
sword at the coronation of George III. As he sympathized with the
rebels in America, his suggestion in Parliament that the British with-
draw their Redcoats from the Colonies so infuriated Chatham, that
in speaking against it, he had an apoplectic stroke.
Although the family name, Lennox, was written with two n's,
it was then the custom to put a dash through the letter that was to
be repeated, rather than write it twice. Today, Lenox is spelled
with but one n, presumably because a clerk, in copying a record,
forgot to draw the line.
Here the stern realism of New England was somewhat softened
by the beauty of nature, and mountain scenery could refresh the spirit
of those hardy pioneers who had time to look up from their strenuous
efforts to wrest a living from the rocky soil. Jonathan Hinsdale, in
1750, was the first man to build a home in the hamlet, as a marker
on a spot at the bottom of Courthouse Hill testifies, but marauding
Indians were rarely good neighbors and he finally moved away.
Lenox has gone through various periods: the Indian, the Revo-
lutionary, then the Yankee heyday was followed by a judicial interlude
when the town won distinction as the county-seat. Subsequently, it
flowered into a literary era, and after that an influx of wealth created
imposing estates for summer residences. The coming of the motor
resulted in Berkshire tours and Lenox's advantages as a summer resort
Meantime, the death of the heads of the old families, the in-
creased taxation, and the scarcity of help essential to gracious living
in big homes, brought another change and the empty places were left
in charge of caretakers. As their values decreased, pessimists feared
the town was decadent, but it was merely a transition period, for large
private schools were able to purchase them to secure seclusion in the
hills. Eventually, much of the extensive grounds of the aristocrats
of the past were cut up into building lots for the more democratic
homes of the present. Today, a new glory has come to the region
with the founding of the Berkshire Symphonic Festival at Tangle-
wood, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Dr. Serge Kous-
sevitzsky attracts worldwide attention.
In early days, to help finance the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the
General Court sold certain parcels of land and v/hen the Mohicans
objected, they were bought off with a couple thousand pounds, three
barrels of cider, and thirty quarts of rum. The township, consisting
of Richmond and Lenox, proved unwieldy and had to be divided
and in 1767, the Village of Lenox was incorporated.
The first little town-meeting was held amid rumbles of trouble
with King George in England that echoed all through the mountains.
Resistance to tyranny was advocated by the courageous, and a docu-
ment was drawn up and signed by a brave little group that is now
so precious it is kept in the safe in the Lenox Library. It is known
as the Non-Consumption and Non-Importation Agreement ... a boy-
cott, by which the men declared they would not buy another thing
from Great Britain whose Parliament had "of late undertaken to give
and grant away our money without our knowledge or consent, in
order to compel us to a servile submission." Boston, too, had felt
the same injustice and in a historic incident, an importation of tea
had gone overboard into the sea.
As the cry, "No taxation without representation!" was sounded
over the land, a young man from Connecticut arrived in Lenox . . .
John Patterson, whose dark grey marble shaft stands at the head of
Courthouse Hill. He realized that rebellion was coming and he began
to drill his young neighbors. His leadership was so marked that he
was chosen to represent Lenox at a session of the General Court in
Boston and the townspeople instructed him to use his utmost ability
with the Assembly and they, theirs, with the Continental Congress
and if they thought it safe to declare independence of Great Britain,
"We will stand by you with our lives and our fortunes."
This patriotic pledge was scrupulously fulfilled. Two days after
the Battle of Lexington, Lenox, too, was aroused by the shot heard
around the world, for a man on horseback dashed into town to appeal
for help for the rninute-men. Patterson then promptly marched off
with his little band though there were Tories who felt the colonists
should not rebel against the Mother Country and procrastinators who
said this was not the time to cast the die. In the Cemetery-on-the-
Hill one may read the names of the dead brought back from Bunker
Hill, Boston, Bennington and Saratoga, a mute but noble testimony
that Lenox did its part to make America the land of the free and the
home of the brave.
In 1783, Major General Patterson built the lovely white house
opposite the Curtis Hotel, but it was not until a hundred years later
that a descendant erected the monument to him and to his son-in-
law, Major Egleston. Both were friends of Washington and of
Lafayette; they crossed the Delaware v/ith the former and assisted in
the capture of Burgoyne. Later, Patterson commanded at West Point,
was connected with the trial of Major Andre and had a part in
putting down Shay's Rebellion. Though he moved into New York
State afterward, where he helped draw up its constitution, his remains
were brought back to Lenox and a distant relative recently sent the
Library, as heirlooms, a ring and a spoon of the village's outstanding
citizen, and a great-granddaughter, Mrs. Appleton, gave miniatures
of her ancestors. His daughter's family of Eglestons eventually took
over the homestead and as Major Egleston had won many honors in
the Revolution and had become a Senator in Boston, the residence
achieved distinction in war, politics, and literature.
Jonathan Edwards, who thrived on dry theological doctrines in
Stockbridge, had a claim in the Minister's Grant which had been part
of the original township and he used to ride over to Lenox, literally,
to see the lay of the land. The relentless Calvinism of his preaching
prompted Oliver Wendell Holmes to remark years later that Edwards
may have misread a passage in the Bible, for he condemned unbap-
tized infants to everlasting punishment, as if Jesus had said, "Let
the little vipers come unto me." His book, "Freedom of the Will."
became an ecclesiastical sensation but hear Whittier on this preacher:
"In the church of the wilderness, Edwards wrought,
Shaping his creed at the forge of thought,
And with Thor's own hammer welded and bent
The iron links of his argument,
Which strove to grasp in its mighty span
The purpose of God and the fate of man."
The first president of Yale, Timothy Dwight, also visited this
county several times at the end of the eighteenth century and in his
volumes of travels, now gathering dust on old book shelves, are
many compliments for Lenox.
As the Yankee population increased in the village, industry began
to thrive. A Glass Grant was given in 1857, for Lenox Furnace and
some of the sand from that pit was shipped to make the famous
sandwich glass of the Cape. A marble quarry was dug and an iron
mine flourished with subterranean corridors. This fact was demon-
strated in 1862, when a house on Main Street caved into one of the
old passages beneath it. There were also a foundry, tanneries, and
little factories for tin and willowware. Post riders and stage coach
made contact with the outside world, the latter, with a blast from the
horn and a crack of the whip, bringing up, after a great swirl, to the
door of the Berkshire Coffee House, the forerunner of the Curtis
Hotel. After continuing to Richmond, it went as far as Hudson, and
there passengers took the boat to New York. In 1838, the Hudson
and Berkshire was the pioneer railroad and later a train went from
Boston through Pittsfield to Albany.
The Boston papers of Monday were actually read in Pittsfield
by Wednesday and there an enterprising printer copied their solid
information on national issues and promised prompt delivery as far
as Lenox by Thursday, as he had a horse, "swift of foot." This was
the Berkshire Chronicle, a newspaper of the essence of world events.
When Miss Catherine Sedgwick traveled to Boston in thirty-one
hours and received a letter from New York in thirteen hours, she
wrote that it was an annihilation of space of which her father had
never dreamed. Another quaint item of the past was the Doctor's
bill, charging a patient "for the drive, advice, and bleeding . . . fifty
In 1787, there was rivalry among the towns that wanted to be
the county-seat and Lenox finally won over Great Barrington, where
the court had previously been held. The Court of Common Pleas
was first opened in the home of Charles Dibble, about a mile south
of the village, and continued its sessions there until a little frame
courthouse was ready in 1792. A stone marker records where Charles
Dibble had a tavern in 1770, "situated on the highway running north,
as laid out by Royal Authority in 1751," and that later it was used
as a jail. "The ground upon which it stood became the property of
Mrs. Joseph Whistler and her house, Plumstead, or at least the
frame of it, was the jailer's house. The jail proper stood in the rear
and was connected with the jailer's house by a covered alley, but the
original jail and a part of the jailer's house were burned down by a
prisoner in 1814." Plumstead was the home of Ensign Loomas, then
of the Devereux family, and is now owned by Mrs. Bruce Sanford.
' In the Court Period, Yankee yeomanry and gentry from over the
county brought their legal problems to Lenox and it was an exciting
day when a curious crowd gathered to see the brilliant lawyers, the
dignified judges, and the prisoners who were transferred from the
jail for their trials. Visitors enlivened the town during court week,
horse-trading and politics consumed much time and as business
boomed, social life added a luster to the little gem of a village. To
show that Lenox was worthy of the honor, a courthouse of classical
perfection was erected in 1816, which served until that fatal day in
1868, when the litigation of many long years awarded the county
court seat to Pittsfield!
Afterward, the building stood idle five years, but Mrs. Adeline
Schermerhorn frustrated the plan to tear it down and announced that
she would buy it and appoint trustees to maintain it for a library and
reading room in memory of Charles Sedgwick, a beloved citizen who
had been the county clerk for many decades. This happy project was
abruptly threatened by the death of Mrs. Schermerhorn in Italy, but
her son and daughter faithfully carried out their mother's wishes in
1873. Mr. Frederick Augustus Schermerhorn not only added an
annex called Sedgwick Hall, but left it fifty thousand dollars. The
marble plaque in the entry testifies to his long service on the board
and that he was "a loyal friend, a man of honor, high principles,
courteous, kind — a gentleman." His sister, Mrs. Richard Auchmuty,
also left the Library a bequest as have happily many of the colony.
As far back as 1793, there was the beginning of a Library, and
John Hotchkin, the principal of the Academy, formed a collection of
books in a small house nearby, that in 1856 resulted in the foundation
of the Lenox Library Association, which now owns more than thirty-
nine thousand books. Fanny Kemble offered to give a Shakesperean
reading for the village poor, but as she learned there were none, she
turned the proceeds of four hundred dollars over to the Library as
she had noted that "Lenox had many intelligent readers." In the
Letters of Emerson is one from F. D. Farley, the librarian of 1855,
thanking him for a contribution given when Emerson was in town
to see his daughter.
Mr. Andrew Carnegie gave an entire lighting system to the
building and Mr. Grenville Winthrop, a president interested in
colonial architecture, realizing how much some of the improvements
throughout the years had harmed the original building, paid for its
restoration with the small panes, iron balcony, and doorway. The
worn stone steps testify to the hundreds who went up and down them
when the court was in session, and a table, three chairs, and the judge's
desk are also reminiscent of that period. The silence of the old
belfry was broken with joyous peals at the end of World War I, on
V-E Day and that of the Japanese surrender, when a nimble villager
climbed up to ring out the glad tidings.
On the second floor, a room has been furnished in memory of
the Goodman family, for many years benefactors of the Library. It
is used for study and research and contains the books of the past
president, Mr. Richard Goodman, a table from Hawthorne's home,
a spinning-wheel and an oval mirror from Fanny Kemble and various
other gifts from interested residents. In Sedgwick Hall, concerts and
lectures are held, such men as the late Ambassador Henry White,
Hon. Chauncy Depew, Dr. Anson Phelps Stokes, having spoken. The
Choral Society of Mrs. George Mole met there many years and exhibits
were held, not only of arts and crafts in local handwork, but of other
interesting objects owned in the colony, and of war souvenirs. The
late Miss Alice Clapp of Washington gave the Hall a Steinway grand
The reading room has the newspapers and magazines of many
countries and the adjoining garden provides a sylvan retreat for book-
worms. Prizes are offered children for good reading, and travel
libraries circulate to the schools and nearby communities. Flowers
throughout the rooms from the estates are an added pleasure, pam-
phlets on horticulture delight garden-club members and as the region
has become a music-center, numerous scores, gifts to the Library, are
available to students. Scrapbooks are filled with items about local
boys in World Wars I and II, and with the passing of time, a remark-
able number of prominent people have signed the register and auto-
graphed books and manuscripts are constantly increasing. In his
Journal of 1862, Emerson noted a remark made to him by Mrs.
Sedgwick who used to travel every year. . . "Now when I sit down
in Lenox, sooner or later all the world comes by." Its winter activities,
to increase culture appreciation, and the books offered the summer
visitors, make the Library a year around asset to the town. Recently,
Mrs. Emily Winthrop Miles has given it her rare collection of early
Lenox's main street is on the Boston- Albany postroad and the town
lies between Lee and Pittsfield, so that it is advertised as being "on
the broad highway from everywhere." Its first tavern was down on
the Stockbridge Road but since 1773, a hostelry has been continuously
on the site of the Curtis Hotel.
In 1793, it was called the Berkshire Coffee House where the
stage always made a stop, but Fanny Kemble referred to it as the
Red Inn. It was then surrounded by open country and after her
friend, Mrs. Jameson, went to England, she wrote of treasuring her
little picture of the lovely hills seen from the Inn. The present
building has "1829-97" cut into the facade. It is of colonial design,
of red brick and stone with a generous piazza where the rockers and
comfortable arm-chairs induce relaxation such as the nearby Shakers,
who used to make their stiff-backed seats, would have thought a snare
of the devil's, for one faces the beauty of giant elms and a glimpse
of faraway hills.
For almost a century the Curtis family owned and managed the
hotel that always had a prominent clientele as its old-fashioned com-
fort, modern conveniences, and exceptionally good table attracted
visitors of discrimination. Mr. and Mrs. Lester Roberts took over the
management in 1929, and have carried on its best traditions, making
their guests feel the Curtis is their home. Oriental rugs, old prints,
mahogany furniture, and open fires retain the New England atmos-
phere. The garden in the rear offers quiet to the world-weary and
back of the hotel is the Stage Coach Grill where an old coach amazes
the modern traveler. But the Grill needs no bush to attract the
motorist, for its unexcelled cuisine and fine vintages have made for
The hotel has seen three generations of Astors and Vanderbilts
come and go, Harrimans, Hills, Sloans, Crokers and Biddies. Scien-
tists, cabinet members and writers have put up there and diplomats
made it summer headquarters, while but a stone's throw away in
Stockbridge were two other Ambassadors, Joseph C. Choate and
Robert Underwood Johnson, as well as the Hon. Norman Davis.
Among its guests was the delegation that came from the Netherlands
to thank Andrew Carnegie for giving the Peace Palace to The Hague.
Such Civil War heroes as General McClelland and General Sherman
stayed there. President Cleveland, who once had a summer residence
over in Tyringham, as well as Wendell Willkie, and Presidents Arthur,
McKinley, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, patronized the Curtis
Hotel. Jenny Lind was there in an earlier day and Lily Pons, Emma
Eames, Piatagorsky, and Kreisler were among the star musicians of a
later one, for the Festival week-ends bring notables from the four
corners of the earth.
The luxurious Aspinwall no longer attracts cosmopolitans from
afar, but besides the Curtis Hotel, the Village Inn, the Gateways,
tourist homes and boarding-houses are available, one landlady boasting
that her guests were the Essence of Society! During the Festival,
beds are offered in some private homes, so that all the strangers within
the gates may not be without shelter.
Lenox has an altitude of 1227 feet and the Taghonic Range with
Bald Head, Ephram, and Monument Mountains are always in view
and from certain vantage points, the Catskills are visible. But Grey-
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lock triumphs over the whole vicinity. It was on that peak that
Emerson recited Wordsworth to a friend and that Thoreau, beholding
Nature's feast spread before his grateful eyes, had to acknowledge
that all her wonders were not stored in Concord.
The village lies in a saddle with the Church-on-the-Hill a
pommel, and the Lanier place at the other elevation. It is in the valley
of the Housatonic River, and Lake Mahkeenac and Laurel Lake also
offer water sports, while little ponds, waterfalls, and trout streams
dot the entire area. On clear days, the trees stand forth from the
hillsides, projecting themselves individually into the foreground, and
the air is then so exhilerating, the natives call it a "Berkshire day,"
but artists like better those with the mists over the mountains.
The wide concrete roads are bordered by old shade trees and the
parklike setting of Lenox shows it has manifested the New England
tradition and kept the village tidy. No billboards, telephone or tele-
graph poles obstruct the view; all is beauty, turn where you will.
The peace of cattle browsing on the hillside, water flowing over mossy
stones, little zephyrs swaying the branches, insects drowsily humming,
these are the country sounds that are balm to the broken-hearted,
"Brood on beauty, till the grace of beauty
In its holy face,
Brings peace into the bitter place."
The laurel is the spring's crowning glory but in autumn there
is a miracle of color when the maples begin to turn and the various
tints make oriental mosaics. There is so much wooded land left that
fragments look like the forest primeval and are dark and forboding
if not sun-flecked. Then from the dense foliage, the lanes suddenly
debouch into open landscape. Hillside orchards and trim meadows
abound, ferns and cobbles keep company, granite rocks amid clumps
of birches and ever-present hemlocks stand out in defiance of the
farmers. Wild, tangled growths are quickly within reach of those
who think the manicured estates over-cultivated. Daisies, buttercups,
and clover fringe the roadside and wild roses climb over deserted
fences. Lilacs and syringas are at every other doorway and the new
mown hay is almost as fragrant.
Birds sing everywhere, but to safeguard their future, a group
of nature lovers were wise enough to set aside a tract of three hundred
acres for the Pleasant Valley Bird and Wild Life Sanctuary, where
one hundred and twenty-six species of birds have been observed.
At dawn and twilight, there is another symphonic festival in which
the thrush, meadow lark, and bobolink take part. The museum on
the place has specimens of all the Berkshire wild flowers, trails tempt
walkers and the busy beavers have built dams that are a sight in
themselves. On certain days, tea is served in the little cabin where
one may rest and restore his soul.
On the other side of town is the Garden Center where a demon-
stration of plant growth is continuous and an herb garden delights
connoiseurs of good cuisine. Lectures on gardens and canning are
often given and the Center is headquarters for vegetable and flower-
The Town Hall was built in 1902, when the former little old
frame courthouse was banished around the corner to Housatonic
Street and demoted to be a barber-shop and news depot. There are
just enough shops in the village for daily necessities and the post-
office is really the community center. There are two good banks and
L. C. Peters, whose name stands for integrity in antiques, offers
treasures after the inevitable sales from the estates. Gabron is the
ladies' tailor par-excellence, Dee has a miniature department store and
Hagyard's drug store is an ever present help in time of trouble.
The winter population is over three thousand and as it consists
of human beings, there have been in this village, as elsewhere, scandal,
jealousy, and gossip. Politics have not always passed it by, but most
of the selectmen have been conscientious. The tax-rate is high and
this is increased by the schools being exempt which makes them
unwelcome to many property-holders. By and large, honesty pre-
vails and a school record shows that when a teacher was overpaid
fifty cents, the money was traced and recovered! Once in an emer-
gency, the local reporter loaned the town ten thousand dollars and
was soon repaid in dollars and gratitude.
It is the villagers who have made Lenox what it is. The rich
and great have come and gone but they remain the backbone of the
community. During dark days, they sacrificed and fed and clothed
the less fortunate. Few of their names made headlines in the metro-
politan dailies for they were inconspicuously doing their duty, as
when death and war took away other physicians, Dr. Messer covered-
the entire region, nights, days, and Sundays. This is the kind of
people that made our country great. In each war, they sent forth
their young men, in the last one, the young women also, and when
the veterans from the Civil War were riding in the carriages on
Decoration Day, the heroes of World War I marched before them,
as today, the soldiers of World War II lead the parade. The flag
in the Town Hall then had over two hundred stars on it, but
now has over four hundred, in memory of those who battled to free
us from tyranny. There are memories of farewell banquets by civic
groups for the draftees and victory dinners for the returning heroes.
Meantime, the townsfolks carried on with public-safety committees,
civilian-defense, Red Cross activities, and bond and clothing drives
that always exceeded their quotas.
There is no Chamber of Commerce — Lenox's mercantile advan-
tages are less stressed than its picturesque situation and opportunity
for enjoyable living. As a playground, it offers fishing, boating,
swimming, hunting, golf, tennis, riding, and motoring, while Leo
Blake's painting class adds to the pleasure of the artistic.
In addition to Lenox's own cultural offerings, the autumn art
exhibit at Stockbridge cannot be missed by those abreast of American
art and the Berkshire Playhouse brings Broadway stars and has its
own drama school. The whole region owes Mrs. Elizabeth Sprague
Coolidge deep gratitude for founding her chamber music on South
Mountain, and when gas restrictions necessitated the removal of the
concerts to the Pittsfield Museum, music lovers continued to flock from
all directions and blessed the name of the godmother of chamber
Near Lee, at Jacob's Pillow, Ted Shawn has a university of the
dance where his pupils and guest artists demonstrate the history of
the dance from early religious rites to its modern development. Shawn
has explained to many week-end audiences that dance we must, as
in the words of Havelock Ellis "the dance is the supreme manifestation
of physical life and the supreme symbol of spiritual life." It is the
oldest of the arts and as rhythm is the order of the universe, to dance
is to take part in the cosmic control of the world for the dancer
partakes of creation expressed through bodily movement. The theater
is perfect in stage and seat arrangements and Joseph Franz, whose
talent is seen in the Tanglewood buildings, has meticulously planned
the dance theater to have it in keeping with its New England sur-
roundings. Yet its unpretentious simplicity has unique features to
withstand winter snow and summer heat and as tea is served before
the performances, the students and guests have also delightful out-
CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS
The Church-on-the-Hill dominates Lenox — the landmark of
a century. A church society was organized in 1769 and a little
meeting-house stood south of the present building but the church was
erected, at the town's expense, and dedicated in 1806. In all its
beautiful dignity, it cost but six thousand, six hundred dollars, for a
workman with a team could be hired, at that time, for seventy-five
cents for a ten-hour day! It should be noted that it was not until
1834, that church and state were separated in Massachusetts, so that
the townspeople voted on church affairs. The sale of the pews helped
finance the project but even then, class distinction gave the prefer-
ence to the leading citizens. It was called a Congregational Church
but all Protestants were welcome. The minister was paid in firewood
and from the early accounts there was much bickering, even about
the righteous, if they were in arrears, casting a slight shadow over
the beauty of holiness.
Unfortunately, the original box-pews were given up but the
New England architecture remains, except for certain additions that
really detracted from its quaint perfection. In 1944, at its 175th
anniversary, a fund was started to restore the church to the early
period. The clock in the ancient steeple was given by Fanny Kemble
in 1849, but as it outlived its time, Mr. Morris Jessup, a hilltop neigh-
bor, gave the present clock and its bell can be heard throughout the
nightwatches. Samuel Shepard was the minister for over fifty years
— no weakling, but a mighty man of theological valor, buried in the
churchyard with the admonition: "Remember the words that I spake
unto you whilst I was yet with you!"
In the winters, the men stamped their feet during the service to
keep warm, and the women had little footwarmers which they refilled
at a neighbor's hearth during the interlude between morning and after-
noon meetings, for the sermons were of relentless length. But, as
Bradford had said of his flock: "They knew they were pilgrims and
looked not much on those things (the goodly and pleasant citie) but
lifted up their eyes to ye heavens, their dearest countrie, and quieted
their spirits." Here, preached Henry Ward Beecher, Wm. Ellery
Channing, and DeWitt Mallory — who later wrote the best-seller
on "Lenox and the Berkshire Highlands," and perhaps it was here
that Charles Parkhurst gathered inspiration to attack the evils of
New York City.
Of its cemetery, Mrs. Kemble wrote, "If this were my final
resting-place, I would only ask to raise my head above the earth once
in each century, to look again at this glorious view."
The old epitaphs are well worth reading — this in 1799: "Happy
the babe who received but yesterday the gift of breath. Ordered
tomorrow to return to death." (It is assumed that no prenatal care
deterred the child from making the round-trip.) A lamb on another
tombstone immortalized: "Little Willie — Age 3 — We must all die,"
but the visitor wonders why they hurried it? Another epitaph to a
household drudge who in herself was two factories making food
products and clothing for a large family, summed up her release this
way: "Her thinkings and achings are o'er." Or, note this gloomy
"Behold my fate as you pass by
This stone informs you where I lie
As I am now, soon you will be.
Prepare to die and follow me."
The Episcopal Church had its first service in 1771, but it con-
tinued in a joint mission with Stockbridge until 1856, and before
long attracted a fashionable congregation. There was a society or-
ganized as far back as 1793, but it had overwhelming difficulties, not
only of finances, but apathy, when but fourteen could be persuaded
to turn from the flesh and the devil into the straight and narrow
path. Some years later a vestryman was actually overheard explaining
to a new rector that the ?norning-serv\Q.e, when the summer residents
attended, was the more important one as in the evening only the
village people came! During the war, one of the members objected
to having that brought into the sermon, as she felt the minister
should just talk about religion.
The first little church was in 1816 and the present more appro-
priate edifice was dedicated in 1888, when the President of the
United States, Chester Arthur, honored the village by a visit. Many
devoted souls have labored in its behalf, Mr. Schermerhorn and Mrs.
Auchmuty gave the Campanile in memory of their mother. Other
memorials were the parish-house added by Mr. John E. Parsons, the
choir room by Mr. Charles Lanier to his wife, the chimes by Mr.
George Morgan to his wife, and the beautiful chancel by the Knee-
land family, besides those to the Eglestons who led in benefactions
to this denomination.
After the first mission in Lee, by 1873, the Catholics had a
church in Lenox and the present St. Ann's has a rosewindow and
dogtooth carving over the doorway that add beauty to Main Street.
Many parishioners have given resplendent gifts from the Bristed altar
to the Hoffman chimes, and the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes on
the side lawn was made from stones from the Jordan, Galilee, and
Ireland. The stained glass windows are dedicated to dead members
and there are many French, Italian, Polish, and Irish communicants
whose languages are often heard along the village streets.
The Methodists at one time were active enough to have a building
on Church Street, but later abandoned it for union with a more suc-
cessful branch elsewhere. The Episcopal Church, originally on the
corner, was moved across to Walker Street and thus Church Street
has not a single place of worship left with which to bless itself!
Consequently, on Sunday morning, the churchgoers turn in three other
After the pioneers cleared the wilderness, schools were estab-
lished and "1803" on the belfry of the Academy indicated what was
done about education in early Lenox. Its colonial facade makes it
an outstanding asset in the village and the incorporation document
states that its purpose was "for the instruction of youth in learning,
virtue, and religion."
John Hotchkin was its best-known preceptor and his literary
influence persists as the Library bookplate is inscribed — John Hotch-
kin, Founder of the Lenox Library, 1856. In its long history, the
Academy had many notable men for scholars, one, Mark Hopkins,
President of Williams College. A few years ago, the building was
used for the high school but their new building took those pupils
away and as the charter limits its use to educational purposes, it is
available only to such exhibits as can be fitted into that designation.
Mr. Grenville Winthrop made an effort to preserve the ancient edifice
and though empty several years, a committee carries on until its
future can be determined.
Another seat of learning was the school of Mrs. Charles Sedg-
wick who endeavored to feed the mind and stimulate the imagination
of her girls. The prim little procession of pretty pupils out every
morning, rain or shine, for their daily constitutional added to the
scenery, as they walked decorously two by two. In that institution,
an incentive to high endeavor was kept ever before them, courtesy
to all was a daily admonition, and nervous hurry was then considered
a weakness of the illbred. Mrs. Sedgwick called her school a character
factory and, in her published Talks With My Pupils, one may discern
what high principles permeated her teachings. The sculptress, Harriet
Hosmer, and Ellen Emerson were among the scholars and the school
thrived from 1826 to 1864 but, unfortunately, it was demolished
Today, both ward and high schools have good buildings and
high standards and graduation exercises in the Town Hall are an
annual event for the whole place. But it is private schools that have
taken over Lenox. The Jesuit Seminary at Shadowbrook, and Cran-
well, a preparatory Catholic School, cover what were three exten-
sive estates. The Lenox School for Boys bought two more. Add to
these, Foxhollow School for Girls in its rural beauty, and Windsor
School in Groton Place. Then, in 1945, the Beaupre School of Music
and Arts moved from Westchester County onto lovely West Street,
and the Leighton Rollins Theater School has joined in the invasion.
THE LITERARY PERIOD
As Massachusetts is the Holy Land of American literature, it is
not surprising that many of the scribes dug their inkwells and pitched
their tents along the woody hillsides and peaceful lakes of the Berk-
shires. Permeated with prose and poetry, it has been likened to the
English Lakes, and although Matthew Arnold felt the region could
not be compared to Westmoreland, he thought the homes, with their
spacious piazzas, beautiful lawns, and dignified trees, were the prettiest
villas in the world. Fame furtively watched the little colony, but
notoriety never intruded in those early years. Time did not hurry by
and the "slow procession of tranquil days was viewed with calm
content." In sharp contrast to the six-minute motor ride today to
Stockbridge, is the regretful note of Miss Catherine Sedgwick to her
sister, that she cannot come over because "it is so long and tedious a
The Sedgwick family, who peopled the whole district, were
household gods and it was said the crickets chirped: "Sedgwick!
Sedgwick!" Miss Catherine moved from the Mansion in Stockbridge
to be with her brother, Charles, in the Hive in Lenox and her sister-
in-law, Mrs. Charles Sedgwick's school for girls on their property is
now owned by the Lenox School for Boys.
The father Sedgwick had been many years in the Congress in
Washington ; the mother, a Dwight, had widely known connections, and
Catherine's prestige was further enhanced by the famous people she
met in her frequent visits to her able lawyer brothers in New York
and by her European travels. Lafayette, Daniel Webster, Louis
Napoleon, Dickens, Thackery, Rogers, Macauley, Carlyle, Fenimore
Cooper, Morse, Channing, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mrs. Anna Jame-
son, she knew them all. Sumner told of an unpretentious supper in
her home where Fanny Kemble, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Ward
Beecher, Hawthorne, and Dana sometimes met. She also entertained
the Italian exiles in 1848, when they took refuge in Stockbridge, and
arranged a lecture in New York to help Louis Kossuth.
A prodigious letter-writer, the beauties of nature, the pines in
the snow, the changing cloud-forms filled her with rapture. With
exquisite grace and informality, she gave little breakfasts on her
veranda and her warm sympathy spread to all kinds of people but, a
believer in free thought, the sterile orthodoxy of New England was
loud-pedalled in her books. Who reads A New England Tale,
Leslie Hope, or Married or Single now? Yet fifty years ago, a con-
tinent awaited them. Simple rustic stories pointed with a moral, they
make tepid reading today and we have relegated them to somnolent
oblivion. But if her books are dead, that less tangible thing, the
memory of Sunshiny Kate's personality, still hovers over the place,
for her mind and means put the best things of life within its reach.
Ik Marvel delighted to call her the "Charming Old Lady of the
Berkshire Highlands," and it was she who allured to Stockbridge
her friend, Harriet Martineau, the oracle of the English Lakes. A
young man named William Cullen Bryant, county clerk in Great
Barrington, married in a house still cherished there, used to ride over
to chat with these congenial friends. He had been admitted to the
bar when the county seat was in the Lenox Library, but "In the love
of Nature" he held "communion with her visible forms," for Thana-
topsis, written in nearby Cummington in 1817, was followed by
Monument Mountain, in which he told the Indian legend of the
precipice every Berkshire visitor knows. Green River flowing here
"stirred him to utterance" and, in describing much of the local scenery,
Matthew Arnold christened him the American Wordsworth. But in
1825, the Sedgwick family persuaded Bryant to leave this fertile
valley for a larger field in New York and setting reluctantly forth,
"I wish that fate had left me free
To wander these quiet haunts with thee
Till the eating cares of earth should depart
And the peace of the scene pass into my heart."
William Ellery Channing, "content," as expressed in his Sym-
phony, "with small means," was coaxed to Lenox by Miss Sedgwick
and, after listening to "stars and birds, babes and sages with open
heart," he gave his last public address in the old white Church-on -
the-Hill before going down into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Mrs. Jameson, the Boswell of art, came over from England to
join this circle and, finding unframed Constables and Corots in the
landscape, liked it well enough to return, for her friend, Mrs. Butler,
had bought an estate which she called the Perch on which she alighted
for twenty summers. Mrs. Butler? Why, Fanny Kemble, of course;
but the advent of an actress was at first deplored by the community
and the eccentric, masculine appearance and bold manner of the queen
of tragedy, even with the gentle pastor, ill-became the conservative
village, but though unwelcome, she continued to dwell there and
while the vigor of her mind challenged the indifferent, her magnetism
and enthusiastic humanitarianism soon won over the last recalcitrant.
Eventually, the glow of her genius shed such a luster over the
neighborhood that Lenox treasures even her old gowns today, has
named the road before her door, Kemble Street in her honor and
placed a tablet on the site of her home.
At first she had stayed in the old red inn (Curtis Hotel) and
she wrote of its blossoming with fair young flowers, one bud being
Miss Appleton, who lived in Pittsfield, "somewhat back from the
village street," in an "old-fashioned country seat," where Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow came courting and saw, while a guest there
of her father in 1845, that old clock on the stair. During subsequent
visits, the poet found inspiration in Lenox's shady lanes, all unknowing
then that the laurels he was to win, both in Europe and the United
States, would almost equal the timber on the beloved October
Mrs. Kemble had come from a family of English actors and was
a niece of the great Sarah Siddons and the audiences came from afar
to her Shakespearean readings in Lenox, to hear the thunder of her
wrath, the sweetness of her pleading, and the pathos of such poignant
anguish. In her Records of Later Life, the beauty of Lenox, the
sunsets over the hills, and starry nights over the lakes are ever her
theme. She wrote one day that the view from her window would
not disgrace the Jura itself, but she also records that when she wished
to open a keg of beer for the laborers on her estate, a friend per-
suaded her not to introduce such an evil innovation among them and
the lawn was temperately mowed on water from the well!
One old farmer, who had offered her a ride as she strolled along
the road, made her climb out of the wagon when he discovered who
she was — a woman, to his way of thinking, who had lots all sense
of decency for her sex, whereas we know, she was merely ahead of
She had married Pierce Butler of Philadelphia and had had
many unhappy days on his Georgian plantation where the fact of his
owning slaves was revolting to her. They were finally divorced,
another fact that shocked conservatives and naturally, Southerners were
horrified at her anti-slavery views. But the thing that broke her heart
was the court awarding her daughters to their father and she had to
wait long years before they were free to come to their beloved mother.
Some of the first love songs to her husband are charming, but Faith
is the poem best known of her writing:
Better trust all and be deceived,
And weep that trust and that deceiving,
Than doubt one heart that, if believed,
Had blessed one's life with true believing,
Oh, in this mocking world, too fast
The doubting friend o'ertakes our youth;
Better be cheated to the last
Than lose the blessed hope of truth.
When Kossuth came to visit the Sedgwicks, there was a memor-
able ball, and to have seen Fanny Kemble open it with the famous
exile, was long the boast of the oldest inhabitants. With unconven-
tional comfort, she would set forth in bloomers, then so unladylike,
for a morning's fishing on Stockbridge Bowl. Her fiery ardor and
electric personality made her intensely alive and she would suddenly
mount her mare and, riding astride, charge down upon Hawthorne's
little red house to carry off the small Julian whom she dubbed "Julian
the Apostate." Poor, quiet-loving Nathaniel Hawthorne must have
breathed a sigh of relief when these visitations v/ere over, for he had
learned as a boy that "cursed habit of solitude," and for five months
had been writing a book called "The House of the Seven Gables," that
his wife found so vividly realistic, she had begged him one night to
stop reading it to her as she was too excited to bear more!
In 1850, after Hawthorne had lost the Salem Custom House,
"tired of city streets and the hurrying prisoners upon them," they
settled in the Maison Rouge, or Red Shanty, as the great romanticist
termed it. Hawthorne was forty-six years old when he came to
Lenox, but he preferred the old town on the coast to the Berkshires.
He wrote Longfellow: "My soul gets troubled with too much peace
and rest. I need to smell sea breeze and dock mud and tread pave-
ments." The Scarlet Letter had brought him literary knighthood and
Field told him his book was as much printed in Paris as London,
while Browning had said he was the greatest genius to appear in
English literature for many years. But to the villagers, he was an
unsocial man who "always seemed to be thinking." He was naturally
shy but after a walking trip v/ith him, Emerson wrote, "It was easy
to talk to him, only he said so little that I talked too much."
His wife was one of the Peabody sisters from Boston whose
father had a well-known bookshop. Elizabeth Peabody taught in
Alcott's school, another sister married Horace Mann, and Sophie was
Hawthorne's adoring wife. She said in a letter to a friend, "It is
very singular how much more we are in the center of society in Lenox
than we were in Salem and now all literary persons are settling around
us." But her husband's verdict alternated between two extremes: "I
hate Berkshire. This is horrible, horrible, the most horrible climate
— not ten minutes until one is too cool or too warm." To Long-
fellow: "I feel remote and quite beyond companionship," and then
later the announcement: "We are as happy as mortal can be" for such
true friendship characterized the Sedgwicks that Mrs. Hawthorne
declared they had fallen into the arms of loving kindness, and when
Oliver Wendell Holmes began his frequent rides from Pittsfield, and
James Fields, the publisher, drove over from Stockbridge, bringing
Lowell to see his "poet-friend that wrote prose," Hawthorne's days
were full of pleasures.
One time, he said, he could not write in the presence of such a
view as from his study window, but the book, the "House of the Seven
Gables," was at last finished and mailed to Fields to publish, whom
he told, should that post miscarry, he could not consent to the universe
existing a moment longer!
Then he began the daily trudge of two miles through the deep
snow to the post-office, as the proofs were sent to him for correction.
Lenox, that winter, was so completely draped with white, he used
to call the tov/n the Sedgwick Ice Plant and finally acknowledged he
would joyfully see all the mountains flat!
To his children, this recluse, this "statue of night and silence,"
was the liveliest playfellow in the world. Violet and Peony in the
Snow Image are his own little son and daughter. Fields found him
one day swinging them among the old elms near "the pine tree of
a thousand memories," under which Bunny's obsequies had been
ceremoniously held. He made kites, took the children fishing and
rowing on Stockbridge Bowl, or, best of all, swimming, nutting in
the woods, or down the Milky Way to the farmhouse, where his
descriptive powers could change the milk into nectar.
The size of the little red house must have been deceptive for it
was elastic enough to contain a so-called drawing-room (in which
Apollo stood with his head tied up), a boudoir, a dining room, Rose's
golden room, Hawthorne's study, and a couple of bedrooms!
The table on which he wrote the House of the Seven Gables is
now in the Pittsfield Atheneum while Lenox preserves another table
in the Library. Eventually, the National Federation of Music Clubs
intends to rebuild the little house exactly as it was when Hawthorne
lived there. It is to be used as a summer studio by the Berkshire
Music Center and Dr. Koussevitzky has bailed the project with delight.
Hawthorne once described his surroundings in these words:
'The house stands on a gently sloping eminence; a short
distance away, in the lap of the valley, is a beautiful lake
(Stockbridge Bowl) reflecting a perfect image of its own
wooded banks and of the summits of the more distant hills
as it gleamed in glass tranquility without the trace of a winged
breeze on any part of its bosom. There is a glen between
this house and the lake through which winds a little brook
with pools and tiny waterfalls over the great roots of trees.
Beyond the lake is Monument Mountain looking like a head-
less sphinx wrapped in a Persian shawl, when clad in the rich
and diversified autumnal foliage of its woods."
The Wonder Book was made up of stories Hawthorne told his
own children there. Tanglewood lay close by and was the reason
Mr. Tappan took that name for his estate, why Mr. Anson Phelps
Stokes named his neighboring place, Shadowbrook, and Mr. Pease
named his, the Orchard. Part of the American Note-Book and the
Blithedale Romance were also results of this year and a half in Lenox
and when Rose, later Mrs. Latrop, was born, he wrote that his wife
had also produced a little work, which still lay in the sheets but
already made some noise in the world! This was Mother Rose of
the Home for Cancer whose name was blessed by the dying, for the
hospital she built for them near New York City.
Mrs. Hawthorne acknowledged she was a compound of Faith
and Hope and her devotion to Mr. Noble Melancholy was equalled
only by his appreciation of her, but he trusted her judgment more
than the later critics who resented her striking from his notebooks,
phrases she thought a bit too virile for Puritan consumption. High
thinking and plain living were necessary while the novelist worked
the gold mine in his head and his training at Brook Farm helped his
garden, but having named the chickens for their friends, he felt like
a cannibal when eating them. "Grimly glad" Mrs. Peters, an invalu-
able tyrant, baked and brewed for the little household, but could not
have been there when the Whipples arrived, for he and Hawthorne
picked currants in the garden, and while Mrs. Hawthorne made fresh
biscuits for tea, Mrs. Whipple laid the cloth for their frugal fare —
yet, this little meal was later written into literature.
However, the climate proved too rigorous for the writer's health,
and he grew eager to be off to Concord. One day he wrote, "We
shall leave here with joy" and in November, 1851, in a snowstorm,
they rode over to Pittsfield in a farmer's wagon to catch the train for
Boston, their trunks piled high about them, their five cats accom-
panying them down the road, in a picturesque exit through what are
now known as the Hawthorne Pines.
During his Concord stay, his friend from college days, Franklin
Pierce, had been made president of the United States and offered
Hawthorne the consulate at Liverpool. The assured stipend that
would put his family beyond financial anxiety tempted him and he
accepted, consequently, for several years, the poor man had those
"damned annoyances" of hundreds of Americans besieging him to
right their wrongs. He wrote Pierce's biography, and it was later
in company with him, that in failing health, he started out from
Concord to meet the spring on the little journey that carried him too
far for return.
On Stockbridge Bowl road is a small bronze tablet:
"Near this spot stood Tanglewood — a little red house where
Nathaniel Hawthorne lived from the spring of 1850 to the
autumn of 1851. Here he wrote the 'House of the Seven
Gables' and the 'Wonder Book.' Here his daughter, Rose, was
born. The house was destroyed by fire in June, 1890."
The beauty of the changing hills was not lost on this sensitive
soul and in his American Notebook are many references to nature's
"The foliage of maples begins to change; Julian picking
up a handful of autumnal maple-leaves the other day said,
'Look, papa, here's a bunch of fire.' Yesterday, Monument
Mountain, through a diffused mist, with the sun shining on
it, had the aspect of burnished copper.
"The sunsets of winter are incomparably splendid, and
when the ground is covered with snow, no brilliancy of tint
expressible by words can come within an infinite distance of
the effect. The sunset sky, amidst its splendor, has a softness
and delicacy that impart themselves to a white marble world.
The rivulets race along the road, down the hills, and wher-
ever there is a permanent brooklet, however generally insig-
nificant, it is now swollen into importance and the rumble and
tumble of its waterfalls may be heard a long way off — little
streams, Mississippis of the moment."
There are many references to Lenox in Emerson's letters as
Samuel Ward was an old friend and he also stayed often with the
Tappans when he escorted his daughter, Ellen, back and forth to
Mrs. Sedgwick's school. It was Catherine Sedgwick who introduced
Emerson to Harriet Martineau of the English Lakes, who in turn
brought to his attention a young woman, Margaret Fuller, who had
taught in Alcott's school and later held conversations for the intellec-
tual elite of Boston and collaborated with Emerson in publishing the
Dial. The following excerpt is from a letter Emerson wrote to his
brother William, October 31, 1827:
"I went however on Thursday in his (Judge Howe's) chaise
to bring him back and spent a day at Mrs. Charles Sedgwick's
in Lenox. Went over to Stockbridge and brought Miss Sedg-
wick to Lenox, preached there in the evening and returned
by stage to N. (Northampton) on Saturday ... the Judge
being detained by a silly cause till noon. Miss Sedgwick
spoke with great approbation of your speaking and writing.
It is a grand region that Berkshire ... a Scotland having
granite mountains and very thunderous little rivers, jumping
down therefrom and taking their first lesson in roaring, before
they reach the ocean and take up the business in earnest. Here
'tis a joke'."
In 1874, Charles Kingsley, himself Westward Ho, visited Lenox
and Dean Stanley, when a guest of Cyrus Field, in Stockbridge,
preached as eloquently there as in Westminster Abbey. It was Field,
whose office is still shown, who connected by the first cable this
country and England when Queen Victoria's historic message pro-
claimed "What Hath God Wrought!"
One of the largest grants of land in the region had been held
by Judge Quincy, the grandfather of John Quincy Adams, while, on
old Judge Wendell's farm, Oliver Wendell Holmes built a house
with a two-thousand dollar legacy of his wife. Here, they had a
golden sense of comfort in home life and today, on Holmes Road,
where three of his children were born, and Elsie Venner first saw
the light of day, this house stands inviolate.
In the Berkshires' sweet peace, Holmes drank in life with the
balmy air and riding over to see Hawthorne, he would always fling
out a jest to a passerby from his inexhaustible pack of nonsense.
Obliged to sell the Pittsfield estate, he could never bring himself to
see it again, and he wrote that "those seven blessed summers stand in
memory like the seven golden candlesticks in the beatific vision of
the holy dreamer."
At times, the literary colony included Charles Dudley Warner,
Audubon, Fredericks Bremer, the sisters Goodale, Ellery Channing
the poet, George William Curtis, Henry James, Mrs. Burton Harri-
son, and also Melville, who wrote essays and sea tales in the home
of his uncle in Pittsfield. There he tried to repair, by unnumbered
kindnesses to Hawthorne, the hasty criticism he had unfortunately
given his early work. Richard Watson Gilder, editor of the Century
with "the heart of a hero in a poet's frame and the soul of a soldier
in a body frail," summered in nearby Tyringham; and J. O. Sargent,
the Horacian scholar, lived many years near Laurel Lake in Twin Elms.
One night, Kate Douglas Wiggins read the manuscript of "Re-
becca of Sunnybrook Farm" to the Curtis family in Parlor B, and the
coming of Edith Wharton was a beacon to illuminate local history.
Henry James visited her many times at the Mount and, though she
sold it and went to live in Paris, her happy days in the hill country
before her husband's breakdown, stayed in her memory. Those who
were fortunate enough to see the vista over Laurel Lake from the
upper terrace of her studio, will also cherish memorable beauty. Mr.
Albert Shattuck purchased the Mount but death brought another
change when Mr. and Mrs. VanAnda took possession, after a long
connection with the New York Times. But again death took toll and
present owner, the Foxhollow School, moved into the Mount con-
necting it with their other property, Erskine Park. Today, Mrs. Ralph
Pulitzer, the Margaret Leech of the Washington Reveille, and Stefen
Lorent of I Was Hitler's Prisoner remain, while here, with death
beckoning him, Count De Roussy de Sale corrected his book, The
World of Tomorrow. But except for magazine writers, the literary
period of Lenox has also passed away.
The first places were of colonial simplicity secluded behind
hedges, the houses usually on a commanding eminence to view both
the mountains and the little lakes. Soon those cottages were aug-
mented by villas, and chalets . . . then by Greek, French, and Italian
mansions of palatial architecture and by Tudor and Elizabethan Halls.
In place of the trim maids, lacqueys in livery opened the great doors
of the owners whose names were, and were not, in the social register.
Rural verdure yielded precedence to formal gardens and velvety lawns.
Lenox was noted for its fine equipages: traps, dog-carts, landaus,
victorias, and four-in-hands superseded the surreys with the fringe-
on-top. Footmen on the box seats stonily disregarded village com-
panions. As today, the broad highways delight motorists, so pre-
viously were the bridal trails through the woods a joy to horseback
riders and the stables were filled with thoroughbreds, the Curtis alone
having fifty-four. The comfortable, well-bred ease of the incon-
spicuously wealthy soon gave way before the more aggressive splendor
of the families of metropolitan magnates. In some homes, the old-
fashioned household gods of culture and refinement were outdated
by what Veblen has called "the conspicuous waste of the leisure
At an early day, Major General Patterson purchased the land
opposite the Curtis Hotel for the white homestead which is still
standing, though it has been moved back from the street. After his
Egleston descendents were gone, various tenants moved in — Crockers,
Edwards, Mackays, Levitts, and Bishop Davies of Springfield, Mass.,
who came over from the opposite corner, which he had rented. When
he married Mrs. Nancy Patton, he and his bride went into the rebuilt
Edgecombe on the Furness estate, and the old white house was occu-
pied by his two sisters, but after the deaths of Miss Marion Davies
and Mr. and Mrs. Haynes, the sons of the latter sold it to Mr. E. P.
Gowdy of Pittsfield and rumor tells of a plan to make of it a four-
At Edgecombe, the Misses Sophie and Clementina Furness and
theif sister, Mrs. Zimmerman, whose two colored men in livery were
the picture of dignity, drew about them a cultivated circle, but a story
is told of the prominent friends who came into town for the funeral
of Miss Clementina. The real snob of Lenox was the head waiter
at the hotel whose long career had made known to him the difference
between the social sheep and the goats. A Cleveland woman motoring
through had to stand some time at the dining room door while he
rushed about selecting seats for the mighty. Even after the visitors
had secured a table, the hotel's vaunted service could not procure for
them so much as a cup of coffee and when they quietly inquired about
something to eat, the high mogul explained delightedly: "We are
having a big society funeral today!" and he bustled away, convinced
that such an event would be more acceptable to any discriminating
traveler than mere food.
On the opposite corner to the Patterson house, Judge Bishop
lived until he moved with the Court to Pittsfield, and then many
tenants came and went, Hendricks, Myers, Mrs. Benjamin Porter, and
Bishop Davies, after which it was bereft for a long period of other
occupants than chipmonks and bats, and was finally torn down and
the land cut up into building lots on which Dr. Forsley and Mr.
Klipp built modern homes.
Down the road, a modest house, surrounded by many acres, was
that of old Judge Walker, a soldier of the Revolution, a captain who
helped put down Shay's Rebellion and later presided with impressive
dignity over the county court. Judge Pierpont later bought it and
after he left Lenox, Mr. Richard Goodman moved into the quaint old
dwelling, having the sense not to remodel it, though he did add to
what finally totalled over a hundred and fifty acres of land. Yokun
it was called and such memories linger of the vine-covered archway
and the culture and civic interests of the Goodman family, that every-
body was sorry to see the ancient landmark torn down. The wall-
paper upstairs was over a hundred years old and friends still cherish
the pattern and colors on bits of it.
Back in 1846, Mr. Samuel Ward was the first gentleman of
means to develop what was then unpretentiously called a farm and
besides its magnificent old trees, Oakwood had a fine view of Lake
Mahkeenac that Catherine Sedgwick christened Stockbridge Bowl.
A brother of Julia Ward Howe, Mr. Ward was a New York banker
representing Baring Bros, of London, and besides foreign luminaries,
he gathered about him distinguished men and women from his own
country. Before Boston had an art gallery, Mr. Ward would bring
back from his travels, portfolios filled with prints of European master-
pieces for his friends' enjoyment. It was Mr. Ward with whom
Emerson corresponded in those Letters from Emerson to a Friend
and though a businessman, he was sufficiently congenial to elicit from
the Sage, comments on the soul! He had married a friend of Emer-
son's, Anna Barker, who turned Catholic after long visits to Italy and
the little chapel then on their place was probably the beginning of
the present large Catholic property at Shadowbrook. Charles Sumner
came often from the Senate in Washington to stay with the Wards,
and Jenny Lind, when his guest, sang in the open while passing a
little lake whose echo charmed her and it is called Echo Lake today.
Years after Mr. William Bullard of Boston bought the Highwood
estate, his son, Dr. Bullard, rebuilt it in the original style, but with
modern conveniences, of the Ward house that had been associated
with the entertainment of so many of the country's great and the
Bullards themselves were worthy to carry on its traditions. But Miss
Kate was so enamored of Italian architecture that she built, at an
exhorbitant cost, a villa on the part of the property near Stockbridge
Bowl. As she was ready to move in, she learned that a shrinkage
in her income was imminent and she died of a sudden stroke. After
that tragedy, her brother tore down the perfectly good villa, its sad
story and inappropriate setting in New England, moving him to
In 1853, Mrs. Adeline Schermerhorn had built Pine Croft in
a large tract of giant pines and she will always be gratefully asso-
ciated with her gift of the Library building. Her son and daughter
continued to benefit the town, the latter, Mrs. Richard Auchmuty, of
the Dormers down the Pittsfield road, whose husband, Col. Auch-
muty, also promoted many fine projects. Long after the automobile
usurped the road, amazed spectators gazed upon a little old lady out
for her daily drive in an old-fashioned victoria without even rubber
tires, but the coachman, in full livery and a perfectly fitted gloved
hand, held up a tiny sunshade to shield her eyes. Then as they
gasped in astonishment, what seemed like a glimpse of the past
vanished in the modern traffic.
Mr. F. Augustus Schermerhorn continued to reside at Pine Croft
with its stretch of two miles eastward toward Lee, until he died while
addressing a banquet in his honor at the Union League Club. Besides
his bequest to the Library, a lifelong romance was suggested by his
leaving Mrs. David Lydig, his opposite neighbor in Thistledown,
seven hundred thousand dollars. But the proprieties were propritiated,
for he had named her husband an executor, though he too died
before Mr. Schermerhorn. Then the two lovers, both past seventy,
were about to commit matrimony but matchmakers had had also a
previous romance to discuss, for Mrs. Lydig had first been engaged
to Mr. Schermerhorn's brother who died in the Civil War. Mrs.
Adolf Berle, wife of the Ambassador to Brazil, recently invested in
part of the woods of Pine Croft and erected small houses, a residential
section called Schermerhorn Park.
What is now the Cranwell School property, Henry Ward Beecher
bought in 1853 for a farm, "not to work, but to lie upon"; and there,
with a book in hand, "not to read, but to muse over," he could be
found . . . "seeing by a mere roll of the eyeball, sixty miles from
mountain to mountain." Beecher wrote many of his Star Papers in
this summer home and Harriet Beecher Stowe divided her time
between her talented brother and her son-in-law in Stockbridge.
Afterward, General Rathbone lived there many years and Mr.
John Sloan was the next buyer. He added many acres to the farm
and called his big yellow brick house Wyndhurst for it stood out
as a challenge to nature's power. As his daughter, Mrs. W. E. S.
Griswald, after a few years, no longer wanted the estate, Howard
Cole bought it when he arrived in town for a meteoric career. Ac-
quiring also Coldbrooke, the adjoining place of Captain John S.
Barnes, he opened them as an exclusive residential club, the Berkshire
Hunt and Riding Club, which after reverses, he made over to Mr.
Woodson Oglesby who had moved into Blantyre, the Robert Patterson
estate. Today, Wyndhurst is known as St. Joseph's Hall, a Catholic
Preparatory School, whose golf-links are generously thrown open to
In Mr. Sloan's time, he had entertained there President McKinley
and his cabinet and, on the news of his assassination, instantly can-
celled by phone the pink tea he and Mrs. Sloan were giving for two
hundred friends. In such emergencies, the whole town turned to
Mrs. Jessie Ferguson, the genius of the telephone, who not only gave
"service with courtesy" but from intimate knowledge of what the
families said and did, was able during twenty-five years in office, to
find a way for them to obtain whatever was their wish.
Erskine Park was the pretentious place of Mr. George Westing-
house where electric lights appeared for the first time on a driveway.
All the roads were constructed of a dazzling, white marble substance
and were said to have cost fifty thousand dollars, the grounds being
laid out with an artificial lake, elaborate fountains, and a massive
bridge. One room had a ceiling of tufted white satin (!) and after
the regattas on Laurel Lake, there were lavish entertainments. Mr.
Westinghouse often had distinguished scientists visit him, one being
Lord Kelvin of the London Academy of Science, but Mrs. Westing-
house said that their happiest days were before he made a fortune,
when she had filled his dinner-pail every morning.
Although she recalled the time when she could not afford a silk
dress, later a buying mania overtook her and she used, in selecting
a gown, to secure the whole bolt of material that no other woman
could be dressed like Mrs. Westinghouse. After the death of both,
the auction drew the curious for miles away and only Thackery could
have done justice to a description of the auctioneer's laudatory oratory.
But the mice and moths had had a field day during the time the house
was closed and the awe of the multiude, long held in check by the
reign of magnificence, vented itself in open jeers when broken china
and a gross of rat-eaten monogramed bath towels were offered them.
Sic transit gloria!
The next owner, Mrs. Raymond Baker, formerly Mrs. Alfred
Vanderbilt, tore down the old house and built a modern one with
a long music room. She called it Holmwood and there she spent
a few summers with her baby daughter, Gloria Baker, now Mrs.
Alexander, and her two little Vanderbilt sons who developed their
sportsmanship with pony carts and tiny motors while their mother's
house-parties made headlines. Today, she is known as Mrs. Mar-
garet Emerson, her family name, but she soon offered the place for
sale as it was not a home, just one of her many houses. The auction
of its contents drew many bidders, but Foxhollow School was for-
tunate to secure that estate.
In 1887, Mr. William Sloan, the carpet manufacturer of New
York, chose a high elevation for his large frame and stone house,
called Elm Court, from the beautiful old trees. Those were the days
when it was possible for him to have a hundred in help on the payroll
and he also financed the purchase of the Lenox Club, founded in 1864.
His widow, a granddaughter of Commodore Vanderbilt, terminated
her widowhood by marrying her neighbor, Mr. Henry White, our
Ambassador to England and France. At the Flower Show, her exhibit
always wins the first prize for her superintendent could have taken
a PhD. in horticulture. Her daughters, Mrs. James Burden and Mrs.
Henry Hays Hammond, were often with her and the latter, for forty
years, has carried on a reunion of her village sewing class. Another
daughter, the late Mrs. W. S. Osgood Field, had her own place
nearby, called Highlawn, where Mr. Field maintained a dairy-farm
renowned for its scientific management, and their daughter, Mrs.
George Wilde, continues to sell its products to the village.
Mr. Anson Phelps Stokes had spent several summers at the
Homestead, the former home of the Misses Appleton, and enjoying
Lenox, decided to build a more spacious dwelling for his large family.
Thus in 1893, the great turretted granite structure rose, called Shadow-
brook, from the name Hawthorne had given the little stream running
through the nine hundred acres. The house is so huge that a story
is told of Mrs. Stokes receiving a telegram from her son at college,
asking if she could put up some ninety boys, meaning 1890 classmates,
to which she replied that as, unfortunately, there were other guests,
she could accommodate only fifty! There were almost a hundred
rooms and after his father's death, Dr. Anson Phelps Stokes, known
for his good works, kept only the Farmhouse and sold the estate to
Mr. Spencer Shotter who lived in it until 1914.
Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt leased it for one summer until Mr.
Andrew Carnegie fancied its Scotch Highland resemblance and pur-
chasing it, stayed there until his death in 1919. Another period of
vacancy followed until in 1922, the Society of Jesus bought it for a
Noviciate for young priests. Though there are the vegetable gardens
and the cultivated fields as before, no longer do the big Homburg
grapes hang lusciously in the conservatory.
Another large estate, Stonover, was developed by Mr. John E.
Parsons, the able lawyer for the sugar trust, who even reclaimed the
Belden marshland and opened up his grounds to the public. The
house was built, divided, moved, and rebuilt as death made changes
in the family. Mr. Parsons established St. Helena's, a fresh air settle-
ment for under-privileged children at Interlaken, in memory of the
daughter, Helen, who said, just before she died, that the abandoned
Shaker buildings would make an ideal camp. The division of the
estate made the camp's maintenance too difficult but the other memo-
rial, St. Helena's Chapel, remains open in New Lenox.
For his second wife, Mr. Parsons married the widow of Mr.
David W. Bishop, who with his children, Mr. Herbert Parsons, Mrs.
Percy Morgan, and the Misses Mary and Gertrude Parsons, opened
the home always for the Hampton Singers and many a fine lecture,
too, was heard in their beautiful drawingroom. Besides supporting
many philanthropic and cultural projects, Miss Mary helped establish
the Bird Sanctuary. The son, a New York Congressman, married
Elsie Clews, an anthropologist, who majored in the customs of the
early tribes. They lived in the farm house back of the estate with
its blue shutters and picturesque duck-pond, where their daughter,
Mrs. John Kennedy, now resides and serves as chairman of the Com-
Mr. David W. Bishop, a New York banker, had lived in a large
house called Interlaken, that he filled with curios from his world
travels, given when he died to the Pittsfield Museum of Natural
History. His sister, Mrs. Joseph White, had a small home nearby
and is remembered for her philanthropies. His son, Mr. Courtland
Bishop, married Miss Amy Bend and they went up and down over
the face of the earth, he bringing back startling innovations to Lenox.
One was the first automobile seen in the village streets as he rushed
by the terrified horses. One day, after he had almost collided with
Mrs. William Sloan as she drove from church, Mr. Sloan asked him
reprovingly, what he would have done, had he killed her? To which
he promptly rejoined: "I would at once have written you out a check
for five thousand dollars!" The rest of the incident is found in an
ordinance restricting to "four miles an hour, the speed of anything
propelled by motorpower, other than horses . . . unless it keeps to
the right portion of the ditch!"
Mr. Courtland Bishop built Ananda Hall that was also a bit
bizarre and left a will which still stimulates discussion, for his wife
and the sister of his housekeeper were left equal shares of this estate —
if they stayed together! Ananda Hall was soon torn down and the
two women put up on the other road to Stockbridge, the Winter
Palace, but the name of a royal residence in St. Petersburg sounds
somewhat exotic in New England.
The highest type member of the summer colony was Mr. Charles
Lanier, who built Allen Winden with views of Laurel and Mahkeenac
Lakes, and Lily Pond. His wife was a great-granddaughter of General
Patterson and the old place stood out, not only to the winds, but was
outstanding also for its kindly hospitality. A New York banker whose
family came from Indiana, his firm had loaned that State four hun-
dred thousand dollars when its administration had no money to equip
its troops for the Civil War. During the World War, he again gave
decisive help to his country, for he went abroad to promote the sale
of our securities in Europe and afterward refused any compensation
from the Government for his service.
A Philadelphia capitalist, Mr. R. Jay Flick, bought the place
later and erected a new house which he called Uplands. He was
President of the Lenox Horse Show but he died after a few years in
the large mansion where Mrs. Flick bravely carried on its hospitality
from a wheeled chair. Eventually, her going, too, put the place
again on the market.
Miss Elizabeth Lanier married Major Turnure who led many
patriotic movements in town and when Governor Calvin Coolidge
called for help during the Boston police strike, set forth with a
squadron of servicemen. Their son, who had been cited four times
for bravery, was killed in World War I and in his memory they
gave the Brotherhood Building. Their home, Beaupre, was noted
for its parties and its delightful week-ends in midwinter, but after
the death of Major and Mrs. Turnure and that of a daughter, Mrs.
Fenno, who died in an automobile accident, the other two daughters,
Mrs. R. W. Griswald and Mrs. Stephen Hurlburt, did not keep their
Lenox homes. Beaupre was then rented to Prince Ladislaw Sapieha
for one summer until he moved into the Ludlow Cottage on Main
Street. After that, Beaupre turned into the Beaupre School of Music
and the Arts.
Another estate, Groton Place, on West Street, was the home of
Ellery Sedgwick, in 1858, until Professor Salisbury, an oriental scholar
from New Haven, completely rebuilt the Gothic stone house and spent
a large sum beautifying the grounds. Then Mr. W. Pv. Robeson of
Boston lived there until he died, when Mr. Grenville Winthrop de-
veloped its stately elegance. Its trees and shrubs are unusually fine
and rare birds were added to its attractions. The house was filled with
books, objects d'art, and sculpture, and his interest in culture fitted
him to be president of the Library many years.
After the death of their mother, his two daughters were brought
up by a governess and kept aloof from other young people. The
reaction to this exclusiveness was a double elopement that set Lenox
agog and swamped the telephone office with excited calls, for one
married the chauffeur and the other, the chickenman, who was also
an electrician and incidentally, the son of a good family. But it took
the humiliated father many years to accept the situation. A little
grandchild led the way back for his daughters, but their husbands
were never received in his home. His mother had been the first
Winthrop to choose a place in Lenox and she lived many years in
the house built by Mr. Henri Braeme, the French minister. It adjoins
the Country Club and is now owned by Mrs. Halstead Lindsey, a
daughter of Mrs. William B. Bacon.
Mrs. Lee from far-away New Orleans took up a summer residence
at an early day in what was afterward the Kneeland place, Fairlawn,
where the garden gate stood open with no sign to warn the intruder
that the entrance was only for guests. Miss Adele Kneeland and her
sister, Mrs. Alice Monroe, on her return from Paris, always enter-
tained there the dignitaries of the Episcopal Church. That estate, too,
followed the trend of the times and is known with its sweet little
houses as the Yukon Park Development.
34 L E N O X
Miss Helen Parish lived across the street in Cosy Nook afterward
bought by Major Turnure for his daughter, Mrs. Kissel, but after she
moved away, Mrs. Julian Codman lived there until it was sold to
Mr. Robert Smith. Though the house is old, its view of hills and
valley enhances its value. Mrs. Stephen Van Rennselear stayed for a
time at Clipston Grange and Mrs. Burton Harrison and her son, Francis
Burton Harrison, Commissioner to the Philippines, rented a cottage
that has since been moved around to Hawthorne Street.
Both Ogden and Robert Goelet had farms in Lenox but rarely
visited them and along Laurel Lake, Mr. Robert Patterson bought the
George Dorr house and built Blantyre, but times have changed and
Blantyre now offers rooms and meals for those who can afford them.
Alas, that Mr. William Bradford's Wayside on the Pittsfield Road has
met the same fate! But Brushwood farther along is still the home of
the Harold Godman family.
Mr. Robert Chapin also had a place on Laurel Lake that Mr.
Edward Spencer artistically rebuilt, Shipton Court. His widow had
such a love of animals that a bewildered caller told of a little pig
following her toward the house where cats and dogs abounded and
a peacock created an entretemps by alighting on the open window by
the tea table. But horses were Mrs. Spencer's chief joy and long after
her span had ceased to dash and prance, the footman would jump, or
almost jump, for he, too, was of the past, and hold the horses' heads
(though they had no thought of moving) and, to the delight of the
spectators, gathering up two Pekingese, she would climb down from
the high trap and go into Hagyard's drug store. Her niece, the
Baroness deViry, and her sister inherited the place and many French
exiles stayed there as paying-guests during the war.
Mr. William Aspinwall Tappan gave the name Tanglewood to
his large estate on Mahkeenac Lake where he entertained not only
Emerson, Holmes, Melville, and Charles Eliot Norton, but also the
finest musicians, artists, and other writers. After Mr. Tappan's death,
his two daughters continued to express at Tanglewood the unassuming
culture of this country, but after Mrs. Dixey's passing, her sister, Miss
Mary Aspinwall Tappan, and her niece, Mrs. Gorham Brooks, now
Mrs. Andrew Hopewell Hepburn, most generously gave the place to
the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a permanent site for the Berkshire
Symphonic Festival. Anyone who has sat under the stars amid the
pines and seen Dr. Koussevitzky conduct there had a fleeting glimpse
into the meaning of life and at midnight, when a village boy, trudging
homeward, whistled the theme of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the
refrain echoed through the still air as evidence of the glory of democ-
racy where beauty is meant for all.
"Mighty of heart, mighty of mind, magnanimous," Charlotte Cush-
man had fought her way up to an eminence attained at that time by
no other American actress and she often sought rest in her little Lenox
cottage after forty years of ceaseless work. It was said of her that she
had "a patience that tired not, an energy that faltered not, a persistence
that knew no flagging, principles that swerved not and the victory
was hers — after years of hard work." Her interpretation of the
great minds of the past was of enduring benefit to her country and
her place in the Folger Gallery in Washington among the great Shake-
speareans was honestly achieved, but Cushman is cross-bearer and the
burden of toil was too heavy even for her colossal endurance.
In 1876, the curtain fell on the last act of her life, but of all the
roles played by this strange genius, the one remembered in the village
was the most difficult to portray — noble womanhood. She willed her
cottage to her faithful friend, Miss Emma Stebbens, in whose memory
a watering-trough was erected on Main Street, now as out of date as
the village blacksmith. The little house soon burned down and nothing
is left but a bronze marker to tell the tale of the great tragedian.
Miss Kate Cary was a horse and dog lover and every morning she
emerged from her little cottage, Butternut, behind a pair of thorough-
breds or walked with her black poodles — their haircuts something
to see. She had a swimming pool that she shared with friends and
opened her coach house in the last war for sewing for the British
Relief. Democratic, she and Miss Heloise Meyer used to add fun to
the Fourth of July parades by their costumes and comical antics.
Petitpoint became the pastime of her later life and after chairs and
pillows were embroidered, a strip of cross-stitch was achieved for the
little stairway that went up abruptly from the front door. Her will
benefited half the town and during her life she had given much to the
Visiting Nurse Association and had established the Old Ladies' Home
on Main Street. She left her home to the Episcopal Church but it was
sold to Mr. Joseph Reynolds for only ten thousand dollars.
Her next neighbor was Mrs. Ross Whistler, whose husband had
bought of Miss Cary's aunt, Mrs. Grace Kuhn, the little home she
named Hidden House. Miss Cary's opposite neighbors were Mr. and
Mrs. David Dana whose sloping orchard led up the highway to Church
Hill. Mr. Dana served long on the Library Board and Mrs. Dana on
its committees and she was also president of the Visiting Nurse Asso-
ciation. Another member of an old New York family, Mrs. Kings-
land, had had a house farther down Main Street that Mr. Winthrop
bought and tore down, to give the village a more open space, where
Cliffwood Street comes into the village next to the park, restful with
Mrs. de Heredia's benches, both to body and soul.
At the start of the street is Mr. Hotchkin's house, purchased by
Miss Anna Shaw, and old-timers also remember Harlan Ballard's
school in the Academy. Miss Shaw's brother, Mr. Parkman Shaw,
lived down Courthouse Hill at Redwood where the Borden family
reside. Reverend and Mrs. William Prall next bought Miss Shaw's
house, but the hollyhocks have bloomed on, to the delight of passersby,
regardless of the name on the deed.
Farther along on Cliffwood Street is Oseola Lodge, built by Mr.
Livingstone, but long the home of Mrs. Dwight Collier, the mother
of Mrs. David Dana. The widow of General Barker of Washington
was the next owner and recently, the Misses Dee purchased it for an
investment. On the site of the old Breevort home, Mr. and Mrs.
George Folsom, the latter's mother, a niece of Margaret Fuller, built
Sunnybank and after that burned, she erected a modern house.
Although there were seven daughters, after their parents' death and
that of Mrs. Churchill Satterlee, who lived across the street, Mrs.
Clarke Voorhees and the other sister, Ethel, no longer spent their
summers in Lenox.
Dr. Jaques of Boston and Paris built several houses, one Home
Farm, now rechristened Three Acres which was taken by Miss Anna
Hegeman when Mrs. Jaques moved into a smaller house, once rented
by Emerson's niece, Miss Dorothy Forbes. Mr. Turnure built down
on Cliffwood Street, a home for his daughter, Mrs. Fenno, later Mrs.
George Livermore, and after her death, Mrs. Ralph Pulitzer took root
Breezy Corners was long associated with the Biddies of Philadel-
phia as was the Ledge, a bit farther along on the opposite corner, with
Mrs. William B. Bacon, whose sisters, Mrs. J. Frederick Schenck and
Mrs. Richard Greenleaf, lived nearby. The Ledge may be made by
Mr. Whipple of Pittsfield into a two-dwelling home. Deepdene on
Cliffwood Street was long enjoyed by Dr. Kinnicutt, but Sir Mortimer
Durand, the British Ambassador, took it for a season and today it is
the home of Mrs. John Walters.
The Misses Appletons' weddings were long remembered in the
Homestead, for Julia married Mr. McKim, the celebrated architect, and
Alice married Mr. George Meyer, later Postmaster General, but eventu-
ally the Homestead was rented to Anson Phelps Stokes, and to Mrs.
Drexel Dahlgreen until fire ended its history.
Gusty Gables was the home of Miss Mary DePeyster Carey but
Mr. Thomas Strong later rebuilt it, after which Miss Anna Alexandre,
who had sold Springlawn, took it over and her sisters, Mrs. Frederick
Schenck and Mrs. Alexander Hoppin, often came back to spend the
summers. Underledge, built by Mr. Joseph W. Burden, was in the
course of time, bought by Miss Olivia Stokes. Next, Mr. William
Alexander, President of the Equitable Life Insurance Company, sought
a retreat there from heavy business cares, but after her parents died,
the daughter sold it to Mr. Stanley Wilk, who has faith in the future
of Yokun Avenue.
Up the mountain, Mrs. J. Frederick Schenck lived at Valley Head
and a neighbor, Judge Bosworth, from Springfield, enlarged his farm
but could not carry it through the depression, then Mr. Leonard
Feathers was an interim occupant, until Mr. J. S. Senior secured it,
the name High Wick remaining. Coming around the bend, one
passes the Blake home, Pine Needles, high above the road, and part
of the old Indian Grant, the Matthews and Belden land, where Foothill
Farm stands against the mountainside, is now in possession of the
family of Mr. Robert Hibbard.
A showplace on Kemble Street is Bellefontaine, patterned after
the Trianon with a great, ornate gateway of gilt and wrought iron,
plaster statues throughout the grounds, a formal garden, and a drive-
way, lined as in France, with a row of poplars. As an example of the
colony's preference for the status quo, was the fact that its late owner,
Mr. Giraud Foster, at ninety-four, was still elected, after thirty con-
tinuous years, president of the Lenox Club that was established in
Windyside, a house built by Dr. Greenleaf.
One day, Bellefontaine's expected sale caused much excitement
with the arrival of two reputedly wealthy young men in town who had
connections heralded as the very best. Their ingratiating ways soon
won most of the town, and their desire to settle in Lenox and buy a
place made them the center of attention. After many visits and the
two dinners that were actually given them, Bellefontaine was their
final choice but as the papers were about to be signed, the police arrived
to announce these clever swindlers were wanted elsewhere and the
scales fell from the eyes of the disillusioned.
Secretary Freylingheusen was in the cabinet of President Arthur
and Sundrum, his place, was on the corner of Walker Street as it turns
into the new Stockbridge Road, opposite Trinity Church. Then Mr.
Thatcher Adams rented it and so much social life v/as centered there
that an old caretaker remarked regretfully, "Oh, those were the days!"
Mr. R. Jay Flick then owned it until he built Uplands and today, Mrs.
Charles F. Bassett of New York stays there part of the year. Adjoining
it is the lovely Springlawn with a real demonstration of a green velvet
carpet and a marvelous view, but after the death of its owner, the
beautiful Mrs. John Alexandre, it was sold to Colonel Arthur Scher-
merhorn whose widow, one of the Chicago Pullmans, comes only for
a short season.
Next to Springlawn was Sunnycroft, the yellow house of Mr.
George Griswald Haven, fond of horses and the Metropolitan Opera,
and his neighbor at Clipston Orange, Mr. Frank Sturges was another
horseman, in fact, he was long president of the Jockey Club of New
York, but after both estates stood empty, the Lenox School decided
they were an ideal setting for their boys. An earlier school there of
Mrs. Charles Sedgwick made the property well-known and after her
daughter married Mr. R. W. Rackerman, that name, too, became asso-
ciated with its rural beauty.
In the first period of land buying, two brothers-in-law purchased
large tracts, owning a whole mountain, Mr. W. H. Aspinwall, rich
from the Panama trade, and Mr. E. J. Woolsey, from sugar interests.
Later, a syndicate took over and built the famous Aspinwall Hotel on
top of the hill. Sumptuous in all ways, its career was terminated by
a fire seen from all over the Berkshires, as naturally then there could
not be engines, nor water power enough, to check the flames at such
a height. The difficulty of reconstruction made the venture too haz-
ardous, for its short season had brought meager returns even when
the hotel was full, thus the site remains uninhabited.
Mr. Morris K. Jesup created the large estate of Bellevoir Terrace,
just below the Aspinwall and after Mr. Howard Cole was in and out
of it, Mr. John Shepard, a merchant of Boston and one-time mayor
of Palm Beach, came into the Lenox picture and restored to its pristine
beauty, the mahogany and the walnut woodwork that Mr. Cole's fifth
wife had thought cooler for summer if covered with white paint.
Far away, in another direction, Mr. Henry C. Cook laid out a
farm on Stockbridge Bowl, with the beautiful villa of Wheatleagh.
His daughter, who had married a Spaniard, Count deHeredia, showed
her American nobility when she dropped the title after her husband's
death. The sunset services every Sunday, for which she opens her
terrace and garden to churchgoers, make the assembly feel they are
already in heaven.
Down the old Stockbridge Road, is Overlea, built by Mr. Phillip
Sands, later the home of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Frothingham, the latter
a sister of Miss Heloise Meyer. The Poplars was rented by Mr. Henry
White one summer and by Mrs. Nancy Patton another, but before it
burned it was Ambassador Dumba who made the place famous, for
when World War I broke, the Austrian had to take French leave and
escaped to the railroad station in Richmond, shielded by a cloud of
welcome dust. Nearby Merrywood, long the home of Charles Bullard,
was afterward owned by Miss Meyer, but later Mrs. Charles Voorhees
bought it. Miss Georgeanna Sargent lives on the Lee Road corner.
Off the back road to Pittsfield, Mr. Thomas Shields Clarke had
an artistic home which the sculptor named Fernbrook, but it was pur-
chased by Dr. Metz of Chicago whose German background was of
much concern in the region when war came.
Lee and Higginson were well-known names for Mr. George
Higginson lived in the Corners and had a farm noted for its shorthorn
cattle. His granddaughter, Theresa's, wedding to the Italian Count
Rucellai made a red-letter day in Lenox and aroused almost as much
interest as that of Jamie Porter to the Russian Prince Gagarin, when the
Metropole sat in the full regalia of the Greek Orthodox Church on the
piazza of the Curtis Hotel and the Russian Choir, that had been brought
from New York, divided interest with the double crown ceremony.
An overnight motorist at the hotel, discovering that the service
was but a block away in the little church, suggested to her friends that
they crash the gate and on her return to the piazza she told the horrified
listeners: "Sure, we went in, and up stepped a fine usher and he bowed
low and sez in the grand manner: 'You ladies is on the bride's side?'
and I sez, 'Yes, sir,' and he took us way down front and we saw
EVERYTHING. Well, I didn't tell no lie, ain't everybody on trie
bride's side at a wedding?"
Toward Interlaken was the Beckwith Farm that was laid out with
large stables by Samuel Hill, but Mr. Dan Hanna of Cleveland also
stocked it with rare breeds of horses and cattle. Being vacant when
the Berkshire Festival was first seeking a location, the Committee rented
it, but of its varied existence, a curious interlude was the year Mrs.
Elizabeth Miller of Cleveland bought many Berkshire properties and
in her grandiose plan, this place was to have had a temple of trees
to refresh the spirit, but foreclosure litigation disrupted the higher life
of the Hanna Farm.
Turning back toward Lenox, one passes the house of Mr. Charles
Astor Bristed overlooking Stockbridge Bowl where his daughters, Mrs.
C. D. Jackson and Mrs. George Livermore, continue to spend the
summers, if only over the garage and in parts of the big house, but
foreign notables are often their interesting guests.
Mr. W. B. Shattuck used to live at Brookhurst but after the fire,
Colonel Newbold Morris rebuilt it with a commanding terrace and his
family alternated between Lenox and Paris, until New York politics
intrigued young Newbold to serve, as his ancestors had done, in the
New York mayoralty administration, while the brother, George, went
on with his art work and Stephanus Van Courtland, is on the Lenox
Library Board. In an unfortunate prank, the young Mrs. Morris
enrolled her dog also in the bluebook, a fact not discovered until too
late by the frenzied editor.
The house of Mr. Ogden Haggerty, whose wife was a sister of
Mr. Kneeland, stood in large grounds next the Schermerhorn place,
until Mr. George H. Morgan, a brother-in-law of J. Pierpont, had it
moved across the road, when he erected the red brick mansion called
Ventfort Hall, the scene of much festivity, not only during his time,
but when Secretary and Mrs. Whitney rented it. After an interlude
of quiet, Mrs. Alfred Vanderbilt moved in and when she erected her
4- Jfflm J3g&
own house at Holmewood, Mr. W. Roscoe Bonsai and his family lived
there several years. Now silent desolation threatens this large place.
In the smaller house that had been jumped across the hedge,
Bel-Air, Mrs. Robert Shaw, a niece of Mrs. Haggerty, lived as a child
and returning after fifty years, asked if she might go upstairs and sleep
once more in her old room? It is now the home of Mr. Ralph Starks
of Troy and next door stands the neat, white house, Hampton Court,
that the Bonner family owned for a short time. Mrs. John Struthers
had previously taken root in Wynstoy near the village center and Pine
Acres, built by Mr. M. E. Rogers, soon came to be a summer home for
Mrs. Edward Wharton and her daughter, Miss Nancy, from Boston,
but today, its name only means a good eating-place !
A bit farther toward Lee, is Sunnybank, where General Barlow
came, ladened with Civil War medals, and the long residence there of
his widow, not only brought memories of the abolition of slavery but
of her brother, Colonel Shaw, whose monument by St. Gaudens on
Boston Common celebrates his leading his own regiment of colored
troops to victory. Her sister, Josephine Shaw Lowall, also had a
memorial in Bryant Park in New York for founding the National Con-
sumers League and for her government service in behalf of justice.
But Mrs. Barlow did not shine by reflected light alone, she championed
the League of Nations aggressively and every other progressive cause
that took courage as well as intelligence to uphold.
Across the road stands Judge Rockwell's perfect colonial house
that Mrs. Clinton Jones (Lura Curtis) has preserved with its attractive
doorway and a garden that has lovely receding hills for a background.
Next door, Heathercroft, has been enjoyed by a chain of tenants . . .
Sabins, Richard Walkers, whose daughter married the village physician,
Dr. Hale, and then by the Misses Brookes with their tearoom and
headquarters for British Relief.
Mr. Harris Fahnestock, whose coach and four ornamented the
village, built his place, Eastover, on a valley road back from the more
traveled route to Pittsfield. But evil days overtook it after Mr. Fahne-
stock died, when the Duncan School moved in and the sumptuous red
brocaded velvet and gilt chairs were no more, for a plumber, called in
the winter, discovered the boys without water, heat, or food and such
was the condition of the so-called school, that the health authorities
had to close it with a bang that resounded over an indignant village !
As the road goes toward Richmond Mountain after passing
Sludowbrook, stands what was once the home of Mr. Henry Barclay,
Bonnie Brae, before Mrs. Henry Clews lived there. Then Mr. Gaston
Drake acquired it and called it Astalula. Now full of years, but with
its view undiminished by time, it is to be the Leighton Rollins Theatre
School. The adjoining place, the Orchard, belongs to Mrs. Henry
Hollister Pease who was head of the Lenox Chapter of the Red Cross
for twenty-five years.
Still farther up on Bald Mountain, Mr. Clarence Buckingham
and his sisters of Chicago created a summer home of white colonial
design, whose long ascending driveway, hewn out of the rocks, cost
many, many thousands of dollars but its view is unsurpassed. After
the untimely death of both her brother and sister, Miss Kate con-
tinued to spend much time there, welcoming as usual her musical
proteges and her brother's host of friends. But when she too died,
the place went for much less than its tax value, to Dr. Serge Kous-
sevitzky, who named it for his wife and himself, Seranak, taking the :
first three letters of his own name — Serge, and the first two letters of
her name — Natalya, and ending with the "K" of their last name. From
the terrace a rosy sunset with a backdrop of blue mountains is unfor-
getable and the hues of the sparkling lake make in themselves a sym-
phony of color to feed the genius of the great master of music, whose
household gives expression to another art, equally developed by Russia
and the United States — hospitality.
We have heard much of the gay nineties but what about life
in the elegant eighties, when there were no cocktail parties, no cam-
eramen, no movies, no motors, no nightclub? A lyceum course was
then highbrow and archery was a ladylike sport. There were high
teas and hunt-breakfasts and the socialites flitted from houseparty to
houseparty. Some of the richest had four homes, in town, the shore,
the mountains, and perhaps a ranch in the West, which they visited
in private cars. But most New England people took life seriously
and the encroachment of commercial New York was viewed with
Charles Dudley Warner summered near Lenox and knew its
life well and in his Little Journeys Around the World, he has his
heroine express relief at being in the atmosphere of Lenox, remote
from the questions that a little disturbed her at home. And what
were those questionings? Was it a sin to be prosperous and happy?
A friend had told her that it was a good thing to have an object in
life — but to have it all the time! Then Mr. Warner proceeds to por-
tray what the leisure class did with their leisure:
"The whole world knows how delightful Lenox is. It even
has a club where the men can take refuge from the exactions
of society, as in the city. The town is old enough to have
"histories'; there is a romance attached to nearly every estate,
a tragedy of beauty and money, and disappointment; great
writers have lived here, families whose names were connected
with our early politics and diplomacy; there is a tradition of
wit and letters; of women whose charms were enhanced by a
spice of adventure, of men whose social brilliancy ended in
misanthropy. All this gave a background of distinction to
the present gaiety, luxury, and adaptation of the loveliness of
nature to the refined fashion of the age.
"They talked about the quality of the air, the variety of
the scenery, the exhilaration of the drives, the freedom from
noise and dust, the country quiet. There were the morning
calls, the intellectual life of the reading clubs, the tennis
parties, the afternoon teas, combined with the charming drives
from one elegant place to another; the siestas, the idle swing-
ing in hammocks with the latest magazine from which to get
a topic for dinner, the mild excitement of a tete-a-tete which
might discover congenial tastes or run on into an interesting
attachment. Half the charm of life, says a philosopher, is in
these personal experiments."
In that heyday of society one of the memorable events was the
dedication, in 1889, of Sedgwick Hall when, according to an old
newspaper account, Mr. and Mrs. William Whitney gave a ball in
honor of Mrs. Grover Cleveland. Mr. Whitney had been Secretary
of the Navy in President Cleveland's cabinet and so many diplomats
were in the village, Lenox was then called the summer Capitol. Mrs.
Cleveland had arrived for the wedding of Miss Thoron and Mr.
William Crowninshield Endicott, members of two old aristocratic
Boston families, held in the home of the bride's grandfather, Mr.
From the moment Mrs. Cleveland alighted from a private car
and was met by her hosts with a smart trap, a series of elaborate
entertainments followed, reported as a maelstrom of social events.
For the sumptuous ball, the Archduke Joseph's Hungarian band had
been imported and the supper was served in a marque back of the
hall where the caterer had "arranged his imperial service with mar-
velous designs in jellies and salads, confections and pastry with a
royal candelabra of silver and gold, and a great centerpiece of Mrs.
Whitney's favorite rose, the American beauty.
"Three members of the cabinet were present, ambassadors, barons
and counts, princes, lords and ladies of high degree! Mrs. Whitney
wore a superb costume of white with a fortune in diamonds. Among
all the ladies, Mrs. Cleveland (more womanly than the girlish pictures
have led us to believe), very fair, very kindly, wore a magnificent
silk gown relieved with gold embroidery and diamonds. Other cot-
tagers who entertained her were Mr. and Mrs. William Sloan at
dinner, Mr. and Mrs. George Griswald Haven atop of their coach
and four, and Major General and Mrs. Francis Barlow at a reception
given also for Secretary Fairchild who had been in the Cleveland
It was Mr. Whitney who established a hunting-preserve on
October Mountain and those who achieved the ascent could see even
buffalo among the wild life. In fact, it became so well stocked that
the State bought it and thus preserved a forest for posterity. In the
house on the mountaintop, the host used to entertain hunting-parties
celebrated for the viands offered by the special chef in which the game
shot was, of course, the piece de resistance of the collation.
Society then was fulltime employment and its intricate etiquette
was rigidly observed by those who, as the label indicated, belonged.
To others outside the pale, the most trivial bits about the supposedly
more fortunate, were of acute interest and their days at home that
look so absurd now, tested in the number of callers, the popularity of
the hostess. The members of the colony had had social advantages,
economic privileges, and political prerogatives which they unquestion-
ably accepted as the decreed order of the universe. Brotherhood to
them meant charity for the needy. That mankind is one, was not a
disturbing thought, because they felt that superior advantages had fitted
them for the places that cruder men and women could not have filled.
That equal opportunity is the requisite to make democracy v/ork,
DR. SERGE KOUSSEYITZKY
seemed a bit impractical. The heads of these families had opened up
this country and developed its resources from their vision and gigantic
enterprise. They wanted their families to have the best of everything
but their own wants were simple — it was only power.
The fabulous, golden age of security has gone. Labor had not
yet challenged the capitalists' control. They contributed generously to
welfare projects, and their patronage cherished the arts. The conven-
tions protected their women from unpleasant realities and governesses
and tutors kept their children secluded within their own group. Today,
our watchwords of freedom and efficiency have disrupted their pattern
and brought opportunity and skill into the foreground, while honesty
is crushing sentiment. Formerly by travel, good reading and a social
exchange of ideas, the best that the older civilization of Europe had
produced was made available to the few. Gracious living was the art
In spite of its pretentious padding, was there not something of
this earlier day worth saving? Democracy does not imply that rude-
ness shall be universal nor equality signify the right to annoy one's
neighbors. Our publicity mania would have horrified our predecessors
with their quiet dignity and refinement. "Manners are the habits of
the heart," and perhaps, after the first necessities of living are secured,
those in the melting pot who are freed from fear of the future, may
after the cooling process of time, mellow and recapture for posterity
something worth while of the privacy, grace, and beauty of this
There had been occasional concerts in Sedgwick Hall and in
Pittsfield, Mrs. Elizabeth Coolidge had sponsored chamber music on
South Mountain, Sunday afternoons. Then, in 1934, the Festival
originated when a local group formed the Berkshire Symphonic Fes-
tival Association with Miss Gertrude Robinson Smith of Stockbridge
as president. The opening concert was conducted by the late Dr.
Henry Hadley and three thousand people sat under the moon at the
Hanna Farm near Interlaken. When Dr. Hadley was no longer able
to conduct, Dr. Serge Koussevitzky directed the Boston Symphony
Orchestra and the concerts continued in 1936, but at Mrs. Margaret
Emerson's estate in Lenox, now the Foxhollow School.
Then Miss Tappan and her niece, Mrs. Gorman Brooks, gener-
ously gave to the Boston Symphony Orchestra their beautiful estate
at Tanglewood on Stockbridge Bowl. A large tent accommodated
three thousand music lovers until the night of a celestial visitation,
in 1937, showed the need of better shelter. The Ride of the Valkiirie
was played to the realistic accompaniment of thunder and lightning
when a veritable cloudburst came down, drenching the grounds.
Whoever had seen such a sight at a dignified Boston Symphony con-
cert as umbrellas put up in the audience as protection from the leaks?
But the elements stole the show and it was called the eighty-five thou-
sand dollar storm, for the wise committee at once began to raise the
money for a permanent home for the Festival.
Today, besides the shed which seats six thousand, there are on
the extensive ground, a concert hall that seats fourteen hundred which
was used in the war years as the Mozart and Bach programs were
better suited to a smaller room; the old Tappan house, now used as
headquarters for the press and a chamber music building. In 1941,
the heydey of the series, thirteen thousand sat in the shed and all
over the lawn on a perfect Sunday afternoon. At that time, operas
were staged and chamber music was heard, and young conductors also
had an opportunity to demonstrate with an orchestra what they had
learned in the Berkshire Music School, which for six weeks preceded
the Festival and enrolled students from all over the country.
It was the vision of Serge Koussevitzky that made the Festival
the outstanding musical event of this country and when war neces-
sitated gas restrictions and accommodations taxed the whole region,
people still came — but on bicycles, in hay-wagons, bus, and on foot.
From a quiet village in mid-July, by the end of the month when the
series begins for three week-ends, a veritable stream of humanity surges
through Lenox . . . Democracy arrives to hear the great symphonies
available to all, for group tickets make the cost in reach of the majority.
After the death of Mme. Koussevitzky, the Doctor established
as a memorial, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation where awards are
given the most talented composers and scores published to enrich the
world, following the pattern the two had set up before leaving Russia
where their generosity brought forth many gifted artists. Three sep-
arate organizations centered in one enterprise at Tanglewood naturally
made joint decisions difficult, but all united in a desire to give the
best music to the Berkshires and in 1945, the Berkshire Symphonic
Association that always conducted the marvelous ticket- selling cam-
paigns in addition to its building the shed, made the supreme gift of
the deed for it, to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, so that the control
and management of future festivals will be under one head. Plans
have been made to resume the concerts with their pre-war expansion
in the shed which was designed by the Finnish-American architect
Eliel Saarinen and Josepf Franz, the engineer.
Here are just a few notables who have passed through the Tangle-
wood gates: Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the
late Mrs. James Roosevelt, the President's mother; Her Royal High-
ness, the crown princess of Holland, Juliana ; Governor and Mrs. Her-
bert H. Lehman (New York) ; Governor and Mrs. Leverett Salton-
stall (Massachusetts) ; Governor and Mrs. Raymond Baldwin (Con-
necticut) ; Governor and Mrs. William Wills (Vermont) ; Governor
Theodore F. Green (Rhode Island) ; Miss Miriam Hopkins, Miss
Tallulah Bankhead, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Thomas, Miss Dorothy
Thompson, Dr. and Mrs. Artur Rodzinski, Desire Defauw (Chicago
Symphony), Eugene Ormandy (Philadelphia Symphony), Fritz Reiner
(Pittsburgh Symphony), Maxim M. Litvinoff, Archibald MacLeish,
to say nothing of the famous Casadesus, Albert Spaulding, Lily Pons,
Miss Frances Perkins, Norman Davis, Mrs. Lytle Hull, ex-Empress
Zita of Austria and her son, the Archduke Otto, and others, who have
contributed so much to festival life in our day.
Tanglewood Yesterday and Today
The fairies used to dwell there until Hawthorne caught them for
his children and for years the poor little things have been shut up
in books. They were imprisoned in costly volumes in great deserted
libraries and neglected in cheap editions on lonely bookshelves and
it is only when someone rustles the leaves in busy reading-rooms that
they dare even whisper to each other, or when a book lover tucks
them away in his pocket, that they can play again.
Visitors to the Berkshires are shown the site between Lenox and
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where America's great novelist, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, wrote a Wonder Book to delight his little son and
daughters, and afterward, in memory of the place, he put together
Tanglewood Talcs. Sightseers do not believe in fairies and they
smile indulgently at such childish stories, but every summer a miracle
happens. On that very spot was the discovery that all the fairies had
not gone away. On certain nights in August, when over five thou-
sand grown-up children come to Tanglewood, two, perhaps three,
are seen silently beckoning to a myriad of gnomes. It is when a man
raises a little baton and a hundred magicians make sweet sounds upon
musical instruments. Immortals can hear the stars sing together but
even the fairies have not heard mighty chords and tender strains like
those. From under the green hedges, out of the flowers, up from
the lake and over the shadowy lawn, they creep stealthily and dance
again, just as they had when Hawthorne came upon them years ago.
Then as the great symphonies resound, mere mortals glimpse immor-
tality. Their dreams come true. They see themselves as they were
meant to be and their failures grow less bitter, their success becomes
responsibility, joy is contagious, loneliness a challenge, and pain a
touchstone. The music is a will-of -the-whisp ; it draws them out of
themselves; they soar among the constellations and look down into
the abysses. Perhaps it is the union of nature and art that creates a
spiritual mirage and awakens the dormant divinity within them, but
anyone who was there will tell you it is a true story. Dr. Kous-
sevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra brought the fairies back
to Tanglewood and the vast audience reads a page from the Wonder
Book of Life.
As summer visitors to Lenox stroll now under the arching
boughs of the broad village streets with the blue mist half -concealing,
half-revealing the mountains, the verdict of the Autocrat of the Break-
fast Table still holds true, "Perfect, almost to a miracle." Amid the
complexities and perplexities of modern life, let no man think that
materialism is universally triumphant. Wherever one may lift up his
eyes to the hills whence cometh his strength, are to be found the
eternal verities of the spirit, perhaps to reinforce man, to go forth and
rebuild the world on bread, freedom, brotherhood, peace, and beauty,
"The good of going to the mountains is that life is
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